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1997-18 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 13, 1997

In the Air and On the Ground: Scientists Seek Clues to Better Weather Forecasting

Contact: Peggy LeMone
Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research
CASES Coordination Director
CASES Coordination Center, Augusta, Kansas
Local Telephone: 316-775-1290
Messages: 316-634-6070, ext. 4211
E-mail: lemone@ucar.edu

Bob Grossman
Senior Research Associate, University of Colorado
CASES Aircraft Coordinator
Ponca City, Oklahoma
Local Telephone: 405-763-5809 (message recorder)
E-mail: grossman@colorado.edu

David Hosansky
UCAR Communications
P.O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Telephone: (303) 497-8611
Fax: (303) 497-8610
E-mail: hosansky@ucar.edu

May 13, 1997
BOULDER--From April 22 to May 22, low-flying planes and an array of new surface gauges in the Walnut River watershed east of Wichita, Kansas, are gathering data from the lowest few thousand feet of the atmosphere, called the boundary layer. Scientists Peggy LeMone of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Bob Grossman of the University of Colorado are coordinating the experiment to learn more about the interactions between the boundary layer--which strongly influences weather and climate--and the watershed.

Scientists understand most of the surface--boundary layer interactions. "The real challenge," says LeMone, "lies in translating these processes into equations that can aid weather forecasters." To do that, researchers must measure the rates of heating and evaporation at the surface, as well as how quickly air in the lower part of the boundary layer mixes with air in the upper part. The Walnut River watershed (see map) was selected for its shape, size, land-use patterns, and hydrological characteristics. In addition, the existing watershed instrumentation provides a useful historical data base.

CASES researchers will share their observations and findings not only with other scientists, but with students as well. Data collected in this first and future experiments in the multiyear project will be available on the Internet for use by students from middle schools through university graduate departments.

The University of Wyoming's King Air and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Twin Otter aircraft are gathering data to supplement information from surface weather stations, weather balloons, and radar provided by NCAR and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory. Called the Cooperative Atmosphere-Surface Exchange Study (CASES), the experiment is a joint effort by the National Science Foundation (NSF), NOAA, and the DOE.

On the ground between Eldorado and Winfield, Kansas, 12 small towers measure evaporation, heating, and friction inside a triangular area marked off by three boundary-layer profilers that measure wind speeds and temperature. The two low-flying aircraft, equipped with computers and atmospheric sensors, fly in special patterns between 100 and 10,000 feet above the sparsely populated research area. Researchers are also releasing weather balloons at noon and 3:00 p.m. daily from two of the three profiler locations.

The public is invited to view the aircraft at the Ponca City Airport during no-fly periods; contact Dr. Grossman (405-763-5809) to schedule an appointment. CASES researchers are also available to visit classrooms. Students and teachers can find more information about the experiment, including daily observations, on the World Wide Web.

NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation.

Find more information about the CASES project on the Web.

-The End-

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Writer: Zhenya Gallon


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